Peter Chiarelli talks NHL Draft, using the pick, and offseason trades

Over at NHL.com, Mike Zeisberger had a chance to sit down with Peter Chiarelli and ask him about his approach for the upcoming NHL Draft, plans going into the summer, Connor McDavid, and whether or not we should expect any big moves coming out of the Oilers this offseason. Let’s break it down. 

With the NHL Entry Draft coming up in less than a month, I was curious to know about Chiarelli’s approach to drafting and what will happen with the 10th overall pick. Personally, I trust Chia’s draft record a lot more than I do his trade record and I was curious to know his thoughts when it comes to using a mid-first round pick. Not to mention, I want to know that what he’s thinking and whether or not I’ll be rage drinking on June 22nd when the Oilers get called up to the podium.

“I think generally you look at the best player. Where we pick you have a pretty good sense of who’s going to be there.”

B-P-A! B-P-A! Hook it to my veins, Pete. I love it! Sorry, I interrupted you. Please continue.

“Unless someone significant falls, there are three or four players at different positions who are at the same talent level. At this point, it may be by positional need. But you can’t ignore the best-skilled player. That’s generally our principle.”

Taking the best player available seems like an easy and obvious thing to do, right? It should be a no-brainer decision. Not so fast. Remember in the pre-Chiarelli drafts when the Oilers would take guys like Mitch Moroz with the 32nd overall pick and just hope that he learns how to be better at hockey. Hearing that his approach is to look at the best possible player regardless of position makes me happy because the good Gord knows we need skilled prospects. Here’s hoping the Red Wine Summits can stick to that plan.

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One of the things we’ve been talking about here at the Nation for the past couple weeks was whether or not the Oilers should keep or trade the 10th overall pick. Some folks think that using the pick is some kind of voodoo gamble and not worth the risk, while others think that drafting and developing is the only way to truly succeed. When asked about whether or not he would move the 10th overall pick, Chiarelli seemed open to moving it but not necessarily as you’d expect.

“Well we actually dropped down one [spot] in the [NHL Draft] Lottery. We’d been planning at number 9 for a while but we knew we could drop down. I know there are teams ahead of us who have positional needs different from ours so that usually means there is an ability to move up. We would look at that.”

I’m super into the idea of the Oilers trading up in the draft if it doesn’t cost too much to make it happen. There are some solid defenceman to be had this year, and I would really love to see the Oilers go out and grab one of them. But, like I said, moving up will all depend on how much the Oilers will have to pay up to do it and whether or not it fits into the offseason plans. What say you, Pete? You gonna spill the beans on some of those plans of yours?

“We’re not going to do anything significant, generally speaking.”

I like this. Go on…

“We felt the year before wasn’t an anomaly. We felt we’d made significant progress (in 2016-17) on a number of different levels and things went south on a number of different levels. We really don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater here.”

Depends whose baby it is though, amirite? You could argue that Drake (rapper not winger) would consider throwing his baby out with the bathwater, but that’s another topic. Sorry, I keep interrupting and that’s rude. Go on.

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“From the planning perspective, we’ve got some holes we’ve got to look at filling. I’m told by a number of different people, and it’s legitimate, that we need a power-play defenseman. That’s something that we’ll look at. Doesn’t mean that these players are just out there.”

So, what you’re saying here is that my beloved Nuge is safe, right? Is that right, Pete? What about Klefbom? He had a bad year and trading him after that doesn’t seem like a good idea, ya know? You get it. Right?

“Like I said, we don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater here, but also understand where we are as a team. We’ve really improved our depth right through our organization the past couple of years. Again, I just don’t want to dismiss that.”

I’m all for giving young players a chance to show what they can do but let’s not overestimate their abilities this time, alright? A couple of your bets for progression didn’t exactly work out so great last time, ya know?

“It doesn’t mean there are going to be guys who are going to be impactful right away but we’ve got some good young players coming up. And we’re going to get a good young player in this draft.”

This is good stuff, Pete, I like your answers so far. For a guy that doesn’t ever say too much you’re making me feel a little bit better. Besides, you need some good young players to plug in around Connor and getting them in the draft is likely the best way to make that happen.

“Obviously you can build around Connor and we plan to and we continue to do so. The expectations on him alone are so high. And he’ll meet them. But you need a strong supporting cast, you need a strong leadership group, you need good goaltending.”

So what you’re saying is that he can’t do it all, right? Pretty much the only thing Connor didn’t do last season was to jump between the pipes for a game or two. He needs help, bra. You know it, I know it. Make it happen.

“You look at all the teams that Gretzky played on, you look at all the teams that Lemieux has played on, you look at all the teams that Crosby plays on, they’re strong, strong teams around them. So, we have to do that.”

Good. I’m glad we agree on that. Since we’re talking about Connor, how do you think he handled this gongshow of a season adversity? Was he pissed? Did he say anything? Did he talk about me? Did he get the hair doll I sent him?

“He’s growing up. Adversity is a good way to describe it. Dealing with him, dealing with Todd McLellan, dealing with the different issues we had to, you saw that he’s a mature young man and he’s learning.”

Did he learn that he probably has to score 200 points for the Oilers to be successful? Wait, sorry I’m trying to be positive here and I keep cutting you off. Old habits, ya know? Go on.

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“We had the success the year before, we had the failures [this] year. That stuff, as much as it sounds weird, those failures are invaluable too as long as you learn from them and build from them. And he’s doing that. He’s a sponge.”

I think saying Connor is a sponge is almost insulting to how good he is. Dude takes in waaaaay more information than a sponge ever could. He’s some kind of ultra sexy super-computer. Deal? Good. Besides, sponges are slow and super-computers are lightning fast. Speaking of which, what do you think about people saying the Oilers are too slow?

“I’ve heard those suggestions. No way. We weren’t slow the year before.”

Sometimes I think any team that’s losing is deemed a slow team, but maybe that’s just me. That said, I do think the Oilers need to speed up their execution to make sure that they’re playing fast even if the humans not named Connor aren’t actually moving fast.

“You know what? You’ve heard it. It’s about playing fast.”

Yeah, that’s what I just said. Are you not even listening to me? Gosh. Anyway, in your mind, what does playing fast even mean?

“It’s about supporting, all that stuff makes you a fast team. Look at [the] Vegas [Golden Knights]. If you want to go player to player, are they fast? They play fast. Watch their support on the breakout. Watch their support in the neutral zone. Watch them move the puck. They have some fast D that move the puck so there’s an element of that [but] it’s a mentality that we have to recapture.”

I mean, it could be coaching as well but that’s a story for another day. I do like the state of mind thing, though. It reminds me of Morpheus telling Neo that he just had to believe that he could jump from building to building but that it took a minute before he fully realized his powers. Maybe the Oilers were like Neo, tumbling hundreds of feet from the rooftop and onto the pavement and it was that fall that helped them realize their full potential? If movies have taught me anything it’s that the protagonist has to go through some kind of adversity before eventually saving and falling in love with the princess. Maybe the 2017-18 season was that adversity. Maybe? Dare to dream.

Source: Mike Zeisberger, NHL.com, 5/30/2018 – 5:00 pm MST

      • TruthHurts98

        He can’t. He created this cap hell mess and signing a goalie to back up Cam who might not last 10 games to 2.5 mil/yr doesn’t instill confidence in me. They have to draft well, the one thing the management has done a pretty decent job of. So I’ll give him credit for that. But if he trades the Nuge he’d better stay far away from Edmonton for a while. Unless he gets a ridiculous return… oh wait, not possible. Fleeced in every big deal. Ok. Then just stick to drafting and developing and the odd small trade. No more overpaying free agents that slow Connor down.

    • Spydyr

      So, your team is coming of an abysmal season where you sat on the status quo last summer hoping players would step forward where in fact many regressed and it failed miserable. There are holes throughout your lineup and people are hoping there are not significant changes because the have no faith in the teams GM. That sounds like a winning formula.

      Talk about dysfunctional.

      The Katz curse continues.

      • crabman


        For me, I’m at that weird spot in the Oilers offseason where I am bored and entertaining all ideas. Keep the pick and build for the future, trade the pick for help today, make a big blockbuster move and shake up the roster, so many options!
        The team was awful last year and part was do to with Chiarelli standing pat and expecting equal or better results from developing players. I fault him for that. But now this offseason( this week ) I think it might be best to stand pat and only add depth/complementary players on short deals. This is because the lack of cap space, and the longterm deals already in place on the team. I do also worry about Chiarelli trying to hit a homerun and falling on his face again setting the team furthur back. I would have fired Chiarelli at season end because of past blunders but he is here for another season and I have excepted that. I think with the new coaches and the right depth players added the Oilers are a playoff team but not cup contenders. So unless there is a deal(s) to be made to turn them into contenders why mortgage the future to be marginally better this year. If major moves would fill all the holes I will get behind those moves when/if they are made but at this point I don’t think a major move turns us into a contender this year and it might be best keeping the powder dry rather than forcing something that isn’t there.

        • Spydyr

          If anything I would try to trade up and improve the draft position. It is almost an impossible task but I would try to dump some salary.

          What can be done with the right moves is improve the bottom six. The Oiler management group making the right moves , well i’m not holding my breath.

  • TKB2677

    I have been saying it many times, I do not think the Oilers roster is a pile of crap like some people do. Yes they have some holes but there isn’t a team out there who can have at least 3 of their top 4 dmen be hurt or have something dramatically impact their games and succeed for long periods of time like the Oilers did with Sekera, Klefbom and Larsson. If a person wants to put blame on Chia because he didn’t cover off on Sekera being injured and coming back terrible. That’s fair. But that doesn’t cover off Klefbom or Larsson. Then you factor in Benning taking a step back. Maybe a ridiculously deep team can handle replacing 1, maybe 2 dmen. No team can replace 4 dmen being hurt or having terrible years all at once for as long as the Oilers did.

    People can put blame on Chia for not having a better back up. Sure that’s fair. But there are very few teams who have a back up so good they can withstand their starter having a bad year. Talbot was bad for over half the season. There are very few back ups capable of playing 40+ good games like the Oilers needed last year.

    Then you factor in how many forwards had bad years. People pile on Lucic. Well he was on pace for a really good season until christmas, then something happened. The chances of Lucic scoring 1 goal in a 40 game span ever again is incredibly small. When Maroon was here, he wasn’t having a good year. Letestu when he was here fell off a cliff. Leon sputtered out of the gate then got a concussion that took him awhile to shake. NONE of the young forwards except Khaira took any kind of step.

    So all it would take for the Oilers to be better even if they did nothing was for Talbot to have a middle of the pack year instead of being at the bottom. All it would take for the Oilers to be better is if Sekera, Klefbom and Larsson all played just mediocre defense. Those 2 things alone are easily done.

    • crabman


      I agree with much of what you say on these posts and I think we see the team fairly the same. I agree with a healthy D and league average goaltending the team is much better. I believe with the new group of coaches our pp will return to a top 10 in the league and our pk will get out of the toilet and be at least a league average pk. All this together and I think the Oilers are a playoff team.
      But I didn’t like the bets Chiarelli made last year and with how everything played out it probably wouldn’t have made a big enough difference to make the team a playoff team but it certainly didn’t help. And once a team is in a spiral and confidence is lost it is hard to recover.
      Trading Eberle a year before the cap space was needed and then not using the space to make additions to the team was a mistake. He assumed they would be in a playoff hunt and wanted to save the mo eh for the deadline. He knew his most consistent defenceman was missing half the season with an injury that when he did come back was going to limit his play and dodn’t plan for a replacement. It was time for Brossoit to sink or swim as an NHL backup goalie, a bet I would have made too, and he sank. Hindsight a better backup would have been nice but it’s hard to lay blame there. And last not trying to improve on experience and making bets that internal development was going to win the day.
      The team wasn’t good enough to compete for the cup in 2016-17, and not only didn’t make improvements but actively got worse. Add that to NMC, trading draft picks and players for lesser talent and that is why I lay a lot of last years poor season at his feet. Yes even more unforeseen things went wrong that would have torpedoed the season but it was set up to be a let down from the start.
      The other place our opinions differ is on Benning. I don’t think he took a step back. He dodn’t take the step forward Chiarelli was counting on but that is on Chiarelli. Benning was a very effective bottom pairing defenceman and finished top4 in most statistics for Oiler defenceman. To ask anymore of him would have been a mistake.

      • Copper

        I agree on Benning. I’ve heard many say he took a step back but…he improved in almost all statistical areas. Did he not meet fans expectations for growth? Sure but, it was only his second year of pro hockey.

      • TKB2677

        I agree with you on Chia and how he misjudged his team. You spelled it out. It was pretty clear that he planned on keeping that cap space in his back pocket to load up at the deadline. Lack of cap space is one of the biggest obstacles that teams have to make deals a the deadline. I am sure that given he had McDavid, given his team was a 103 pt team the season before, given his goalie was 4th in Vezina voting, I am sure he assumed they should at the very least be in the playoff hunt. He knew Sekera was out for awhile but he took the full time given to him by the docs to come back, you assume he will not be totally himself because when healthy, Sekera is a solid #3 but you assume he’s will at least be good enough to be a good #5. So when he comes back, that would be like adding a dman at the deadline. Well Sekera basically came back as not being able to play. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated that. Klefbom had a shoulder problem that apparently he has had for many years. He just had an excellent season the year before with that same problem. Maybe you don’t expect him to improve on last season with that shoulder but I don’t think you expect his game to fall off the map because of it. Larsson had a back tweak, then his 50 yr old dad dies out of no where. As a GM, you don’t plan for that. Then your 4th in vezina voting goalie in game 2 craps the bed and goes into a spiral right after where he was brutal till after Christmas. He got banged up a little as well but his game was terrible.

        I am going to come off as standing up for Chia but I am not. He has made some bad mistakes. The Lucic signing looks bad, some of his trades are bad and he totally misread a few young players. But at the same time, the Oilers had a lot of bad things happen last season that I don’t think anyone could prepare for.

        • crabman


          You don’t sound like a Chiarelli apologist. You make all valid points. Everything that could go wrong last year went wrong. That’s 1 of the reasons I expect the team to be much better next year. But the year before everything went right. I think this team is somewhere in the middle. The fact everything went wrong this year just magnified Chiarelli’s mistakes.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006


    He GETS it. He UNDERSTANDS that he messed up and he’s going to do what he can to fix it. I didn’t have confidence in him after his presser, but now faith has been restored.

    Go on and make us proud Peter!


    • Hemmercules

      Haters like Gord and Spydyr will keep hating until that cup comes to Edmonton no doubt. I have been hating on Chia quite a bit too but much of it is warranted (Losing trades, gambling on players that don’t live up, knee jerk buyouts and overpaying too many players). Glad to hear chia isn’t planning on going too crazy, its probably going to take a few years to make this team a legit contender but here we are.

      Lots went wrong this year but some minor tweaks, a healthier lineup and better goaltending will have them back in playoff action I think. Maybe not storming into the playoffs but definitely in the hunt or a wild card team at least. I think the new coaches will be a positive thing too but we will see. Goaltending will be the big one I think. If Talbot doesn’t rise up they are sunk and will be hunting for a new starter. He’s in a contract year so I bet he comes to play.

  • OilCan2

    Whew! PC got the memo BPA @ #10 (RHD) There is a theory that forwards get to the show faster than D so that might leave a few choice D on the table when its our turn. Man I hope no other GMs are reading my sage advise.

  • madjam

    The light bulb went out last year , and now I see no reason to expect Chia to turn the light bulb on going into next season . Vegas has opened a lot of eyes by not having overpaid stars to have to rely on. A lot of teams will have to be worse next season , if we hope to be a playoff contender next year with most of present players .

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    On a milder note, I’m happy with this discussion. I think the more Peter has been looking at the draft, the more he’s been swayed towards keeping the pick and drafting someone, which he SHOULD do. Again, if there is no slam-dunk guaranteed deal in place (I’m thinking PK Subban?) then keep it.

  • TKB2677

    A guy I would like to see the Oilers go and get is Lindholm from the Canes. He turns 24 this December. He’s right handed, skates really well, good defensively, almost 55% on faceoffs. Plays on the PP and PK in Carolina. Has an edge to his game. He was drafted 5th overall and has a career high 45 pts. He had 44 pts in 81 games this past season. His career high is 17 goals, he had 16 this past season. When you are drafted 5th overall as a forward, most teams are expecting you to score more than 45 pts and more than 17 goals. With the new owner preaching change but at the same time being really cheap and he is coming off a contract that paid him 2.7 mill so he will need a new contract. I just wonder if you could get him.

    You could slot him in on Leon’s wing or he could be your 3rd line center. I don’t know what it would take to get him but he would check a lot of boxes for the Oilers.

    • The Whispererer

      I have liked Lindholm for several years. It could be difficult to get him because we have precious little of equal value to trade. Maybe Strome + Kassian would tilt it since the Canes are looking to add toughness ?

      Another issue i foresee is that he will be negotiating his 3rd contract and will probably deserve a long term ( 6/7 years ) in the neighbourhood of $5 million AAV. Pretty steep for a 3C, but if we didn’t have Draisaitl, Lindholm could probably serve as a capable 2C.

      • TKB2677

        He was making 2.7 mill. What’s the justification for him getting 5 mill when he had 16 goals and 45 pts? That’s 3rd line numbers. There is a lot of talk from Stauffer who’s basically the mouth piece of the Oilers that Strome will get done in the range of 2.5-3 mill. Strome had 13 goals and 34 pts. Lindholm had 3 more goals and 10 more points and all of a sudden that means he’s worth 2 mill more? I don’t see it.

        • crabman

          @The Whispererer & TKB2677,

          I too like Lindholm and think with his age and skill set would fit in well with the McDavid cluster.
          After trying to find comparables it seems like some of his best comparables are also RFAs looking for new contracts this year; Domi, Hertl, Hayes.
          The closest 2 I found that score in his range that were going into their 3rd contract were Silfverberg(ANA), and Pearson(LA), I’m sure if anyone kept digging they would find more. They both got multiyear deals at $3.75M per. Neither play center and neither had as good draft pedigree, I know at this point that dgouldn’t matter but when comparing apples to apples it usually plays a factor. With the fact the cap is going up and Lindholm plays a more coveted position O would think $4M would be his starting place but actually land in the $4.5-4.75M range on a longterm deal. That number could go up or down based on what the other RFAs sign for setting a price range for this type of player this year.
          Depending on the price of acquiring him from the Canes he would be a useful player in that price range.

          • crabman

            Also 45 points is tied for 128th in forward scoring and would put him as a very capable 2nd line forward.

            I use a very rudimentary way to judge scoring. There are 31 teams, 3 forwards per line.
            1st line= top 91 scoring
            2nd line= 92 – 182
            3rd line = 183 – 273
            4th line = 274 – 364

            it isn’t perfect, every team is different and player usage matters, ie pp time, but it gives a good snap shot of where a player falls in the league and a young player scoring in the 40+ range consistently with room to grow has value especially when buying UFA years.

        • The Whispererer

          Comparing Lindholm to Strome (career all situations)
          Age 23 24
          Size 6Ft1″ 192 6Ft1″ 199
          Drafted #5 in 2013 #5 in 2011
          NHL seasons 5 5
          NHL games 374 340
          Points/Game .50 .47
          Faceoff Win % 52.7 44.2
          Corsi % 57.3 50.9
          Corsi rel. 6.0 0.8
          Fenwick % 56.6 51.4
          Fen. rel 6.1 0.7
          Hits 466 300
          Blocks 176 86
          Giveaways 175 189
          Takeways 211 168
          oz starts % 56.0 52.0
          You decide.

          • crabman

            @The Whispererer,

            I would take Lindholm over Strome all day but I think the price point will be quite different. Strome on a $2.75M×2-3, and Lindholm in the $4.25M-$4.5M×5-6 ( I’m walking back my bullish salary of $4.5M-4.75 to $4.25M-4.5 )
            I would plan on using them differently as well. I would keep Strome in the 3C role but Lindhold I would do what I could to get him in the top6. If he was paired with Draisaitl he would play the wing but could take his strong side face offs. And down the road if our winger depth was better with young drafted elc or cheap 2nd contract players he could spend time in the 3C role to run 3 scoring lines at times.

            Also, although your comparison shows Lindholm as the better offensive option I don’t think it shows a true picture of each player today.
            Strome had a career high 50pts in his 2nd season but over the last 3 seasons only managed 28, 30 and 34 points. While Lindholm has been more consistent and more productive with 39, 45, and 44 points. At this point Lindholm is scoring like a top6 forward and I believe there would be more offence to give if he was paired with either Draisaitl or McDavid.
            If I were to trade for Lindholm I would not be bringing back Strome but would try and sign Ryan for under $2M to play 3rd line center.

          • ROILYDoGG$

            Great points from the three of you.. how about lindholm as the 3rd centre and Strome as Leons RH shot on the 2nd pair ? I don’t recall Leon Playing with strome, did they?
            Thoughts on Skinner ? 2nd pair on oilers ?

          • crabman


            I think Strome played much better as a center than a winger this year and over the course of his career I think he has shown what he has offensively and the 50 point year was the anomaly. I think he is a 35 point player and pk option. I think he is more suited for the 3C spot but he needs to improve his faceoffs and get stronger defensively.
            Lindholm on the other hand has shown more offence and I think there is more to give. He is great in faceoffs and is strong defensively and kills penalties. He would be a fantastic 3C but I think he prices himself out of the position with the teams other big contracts. I think he gets paid $4.25-$4.5M next year and that is too much for the Oilers if he isn’t in the top6.
            Skinner would be a fantastic add but with only 1 year left and a $5.75M cap hit he would cost too much in salary and assets for just 1 year. As part of a bigger deal he would be a great fit in the top6 but I just don’t see it happening nor do I think it should.

  • Total Points

    “He’s growing up”. That is a real stupid statement. It makes Mcdavid sound like he is a 12 year old and not the 21 year old mature person that he is. Chai is an idiot.